Paul Rudd is Ned, the idiot brother.
The lights are on but no one seems to be home. He’s a throwback hippie with long, thick hair. The naive Ned gets tossed in jail for selling pot to a cop who claimed to be having a bad day and really needs some relief. He tries to give the cop some weed at no charge, but the man will not hear of such a thing.
When the money is handed over, Ned is arrested.
Ned does his time and when his get out of jail free card comes up, he learns his girlfriend has a new beau and he’s homeless. To add insult to injury, she won’t let him have his beloved dog Willie Nelson.
With no skills and nowhere else to go, Ned is forced to rely upon his three sisters for support. His unfailing honesty and guileless persona wreaks havoc on the sisters as they try to help him sort out his life.
The sisters are done by a practically unrecognizable Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer.
Banks’ character is an aggressive reporter and in an unusual relationship with her downstairs neighbor. Deschanel is bisexual and in love with a woman, but she's also involved with a guy. Mortimer has two kids and is married to a jerk. He is a documentary filmmaker having an affair with the subject of his documentary.
Rudd’s Ned is the center that their stories revolve around.
Two things help keep Our Idiot Brother interesting, a superb cast and a well-written rework of familiar ideas that have been done to death.
Rudd (Knocked Up) is maybe the most likable actor working today. The guy you want living next door to you is in his element as the film’s focal point. Every line is low-key, every smile is genuine.
The three actress are perfect. Two of them — Banks and Mortimer — give what may be the best performances of their careers. Banks (Zack and Miri) plays a reporter looking for her big break. She plows through the script like a caffeine addict on a three-day bender. Tense, self-absorbed and focused, her relationship with her brother is based on his surprising relationship with a rich woman with the story that can make or break her career.
Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl) is a housewife who knows something is deeply wrong with the marriage but would rather deny than face the truth. Steve Coogan (The Trip) is perfectly cast as her ego-centric husband.
Deschanel ((500) Days of Summer) does her patented goofy, life is easy, go with the flow character. Like Rudd, she’s one of the most likable and easy to watch actresses working today.
It’s a first-time major release movie for the three major players. Director Jesse Peretz has done work on a couple films and some TV shows you’ve never heard of and his sister Evgenia co-writes with another first timer, David Schisgall.
For first timers, this isn’t too bad. Not much is wrong with Our Idiot Brother. It won’t win at the box office and few — other than critics — will notice the movie. There isn’t much competition this week moviewise. If you have a few extra movie bucks, catch this one.
Rated R for language, mature themes, nudity. It opens Friday, August 26 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
5 stars/4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars / 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars / 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars / 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.